This is the final post in our series related to a recent survey of CMO’s who shared the top qualities they look for when outsourcing marketing work. The previous topics we’ve covered included:
As a marketing agency, we are proud of our ability to think creatively. So, we were happy, yet not surprised, to see that companies still desire help generating fresh ideas to grow their businesses today.
We all are on the lookout for new ideas and new perspectives. The ability to see things from a different viewpoint often seems elusive. Some are more natural “idea people,” many others don’t believe they have a creative bone in their body. That’s why it takes a community to grow – surrounding ourselves with coaches, mentors, best friends, and yes, even ad agencies.
The truth, however surprising, is that everyone has the capability to think creatively. Many research studies show the human brain will make creative connections whether you like it or not.
Still in doubt, or just need a refresher course on how to go about developing fresh ideas? We thought we’d share some tips on how to develop better, more creative ideas that will positively impact your business.
1. Ask a better question.
Before you begin exploring fresh ideas, stop and make sure you have asked the right question, diagnosed the right problem, or identified the right opportunity. Often, people simply ask too general a question which really makes it more difficult to come up with a great solution. An example of a more general question might be, “How do we improve our customer satisfaction ratings?” This isn’t a bad question, but it’s pretty broad. A better question would be, “How do we say ‘thank you’ to the most profitable, top 10% of customers.” This question is more precise and will help dial in brainstorming to specific, actionable solutions.
2. Tee up the question and let it breathe.
If you are brainstorming with a group of people, or even by yourself, present a great question, plant it in your brain, then walk away and just let it breathe. Like a nice cabernet, great ideas need space to fully come to life. Science has proven that our subconscious brains make connections without us actively thinking about the topic at hand. This is why ideas can come to us while sleeping, or while doing something completely unrelated. Plant the seed with an idea or question, then allow your team some time (even a week is fine!) for ideas to percolate.
3. Seek new perspective (some people need processing time).
Another benefit to the approach outlined above is that it allows everyone in the group to think about solutions in their own way. Some of us like to process verbally are OK sharing all our ideas in a group brainstorming session. Others may think more introspectively and need quiet time to process their thoughts and ideas. Even others may access resources and compile insight like they were writing a research paper for school. Any approach is great and allowing the space for everyone to ideate in their own way typically results in better, new ideas.
4. Regroup and share.
Now it’s time to bring your ideas back to the group. Go around and share your ideas. Don’t stop when you land on one idea everyone likes. Allow discussion and clarifying questions. The most impactful solution may result from a tangential concept evolved from the original idea by someone bringing a new perspective.
And the idea that “there are no bad ideas,” is a myth. Sorry to be a party pooper, but there really can be some bad ideas. That’s OK. The key is to support a culture where people feel safe sharing their ideas, even knowing some of them may not be great, without judgement or censure. A bad idea is just an idea that might spark something much better. Again, ask a great question, let the information breathe, and then be prolific in sharing ideas.
5. Test the best idea or two.
We are striving to generate ideas that lead to positive business results. When possible, use data and customer input to validate your ideas. Our digital world allows us to test concepts in more quick and cost-effective ways than ever before. Consider an A/B test or hold a poll or focus group to see what ideas may resonate best with your audience.
6. Bring the idea to life.
Don’t stop now! Keep brainstorming to find creative ways to bring your awesome new idea to life. You’ve worked hard to get this point, so invest a little more effort into making your idea “sticky.” Skillful creative execution and brand consistency go a long way to helping boost engagement with your customers.
Want to give this a try with some guidance? Give us a shout and let us create some great business-building ideas together.